Iran: What Khamenei’s Special Reappearance Means?
Mohammad Sadat Khansari
Recently Ali Khamenei, the Iranian regime’s supreme leader, warned his faction about recent infighting and their threats against Hassan Rouhani, the regime’s president. What do Khamenei’s warnings, as the regime’s highest authority, mean?
After eight months of absence and quarantining himself, Khamenei met with the National Covid-19 Task Force on Saturday. Khamenei, who had not spent a single dollar of this financial empire for helping people amid the pandemic, certainly didn’t intend to help people.
Khamenei appeared to remind his thugs in the parliament, once again, to stop calling for Rouhani’s impeachment or insulting him. So “in the sensitive last year of the government,” they could manage the situation “without damaging the country’s important issue.” In other words, he warned the officials not to enlarge the rift at the top of the regime, which could lead to an uprising and endanger the regime’s most important issue: its grip on power.
The rising COVID-19 death toll has added to the society’s restiveness. After a month of inaction and reopening the economy, schools, and holding gatherings, now people are aware of the regime’s criminal policy of using this deadly virus and its mass casualties as a barrier to widespread protests.
Khamenei refused even to promise help to the people. While having a financial empire with at least $90 billion of assets, Khamenei laid the responsibility of helping people on “philanthropists.” “In this case, people become unemployed and do not have unemployment insurance … philanthropists can help.”
Although Saturday’s meeting was held under the pretext of the “Covid-19 Task Force,” but a glance at its participants shows this was a meeting of the regime’s anti-uprising task force.
Some of the participants of this meeting were: Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Brigadier General Mohammad Bagheri, Chief of Staff for the regime’s Armed Forces; Amir Hatami, Minister of Defense; Hossein Ashtari, head of the State Security Forces; Mahmoud Alavi, Minister of Intelligence and Security; and Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, the regime’s Attorney-General.
In just a few days, the regime’s security forces killed two young men on the streets. Thirty-year-old Mehrdad Sepeheri was pepper-sprayed and suffocated in Mashhad, northeast Iran, on October 18. In a similar development, police forces shot and killed Mohsen MinBashi, a 37-year-old man, on October 25, again in northeast Iran. Also, under the pretext of fighting “thugs,” the mullahs have stepped up arrests of youth.
The regime has tried to intimidate the public. Yet, people’s reactions and the current situation of Iran’s society have forced the regime’s officials to step back from their actions. For example, Mojtaba Zareh, military prosecutor of North Khorasan Province, said the forensics department and the judiciary were investigating the murder of Mohsen MinBashi.
Two factors have terrified Khamenei and his regime. The first factor is people’s increasing knowledge and anger at the regime’s role in spreading the virus across Iran and sending people to the COVID-19 minefield, which has added to the society’s restiveness.
The second factor is the COVID-19 crisis itself, coupled with people’s poverty and the economic pressure they are enduring. Most importantly, the regime has refused to help people during the pandemic.
Khamenei showed up personally to address the regime’s crises. But his remarks portrayed the regime’s absolute deadlock. He could neither quell his regime’s infightings entirely nor offer any a specific solution for the COVID-19 and economic crises.
The increasing infighting at the top of the regime is due to the crises in which the regime is engulfed. In other words, although tragically, the mullahs used coronavirus and its casualties to prevent major Iran protests from reoccurring, the situation is out of the regime’s control.
In a nutshell, the current situation shows that the mullahs are no longer able to use the coronavirus outbreak, and the wave is returning to them.